TAPSheet: Release Notes – 06/01/2012 – US Report

Island Records plan the release of In Dub, Volume One featuring Bob Marley & The Wailers, planned for CD release on July 17.

Eagle Rock will issue Live at Montreux featuring Etta James on CD , scheduled for July 24.

Show Dog/Universal will release an as yet untitled new album by Jesse James with an anticipated date of September 11.

Eagle Rock Entertainment has scheduled Blues Don`t Change from Peter Green Splinter Group for July 24.

Roadrunner Records will release Hatful of Hollow by The Smiths on ,180g vinyl LP for July 31.  Also on July 31, Sire Recods will release a vinyl LP version of What We Saw From The Cheap Seats by Regina Spektor.

Elektra planAtlantics to reissue Reinventing The Steel from Pantera on 180g vinyl LP, while Official Live, and The Great Southern Trendkill also make it out on 180g-weight vinyl, same date.

Atlantic Records will release the self-titled album from Milo Greene on both CD and vinyl LP, both planned for July 17.

Other Atlantic Records releases include a CD of Dusty In Memphis featuring Dusty Springfield.

Flashback Records will re-release Welcome To My Nightmare from Alice Cooper in a low-cost barebones set.

Warner Brothers plan to re-release the Record Store exclusive release by The Flaming Lips called Heady Fwends, now scheduled for June 26.

And finally, Epic Records and the great folks over at Legacy Recordings will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of BAD, the best-selling classic that yielded many singles, by Michael Jackson.  The 3CD/1DVD 25th Anniversary Box will be released in September, on the 18th.

[Note:  This was punched out using a not so friendly netbook.  I have packed the PC away and am now wondering if I should get it back out.  This is not the best way, for sure.]

Where Are All Of Our Heroes?

We have talked at considerable length about our love and respect for both male and female performers/singers/songwriters.  For many years these talents have filled us with songs, thrilling performances, and flashy showmanship.

The years prior to the New Millennium gave us much.  But since then the wealth of memorable and enduring talent seems to have disappeared.  Has it?

With the proliferation of recorded music, much of it without gatekeeper labels, (who aren’t very good gatekeepers anymore), we are literally overrun with musicians that we will never hear.

I’m not talking about Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, or Lady GaGa.  Nor am I talking about Kanye West, Cee Lo Green, or Li’l Wayne.

And yes, there are marginal talents (marginal because their audience is still limited, not because of any talent scaling downward).  Talents like Florence Welch , Casey Dienel of White Hinterland, and Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards can capture imagination. 

The big question here is will any one of them, or countless others ever gain the stature of a Joni Mitchell, a Joan Baez, a Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gate?  Will any of the New Millennium singers replicate the respect of a Bruce Springsteen?  A Bob Dylan?  Will a Carly Simon-like talent ever emerge again?

I’m not so sure anymore.

Your thoughts?

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I just wanted to pop in here and apologize for my lack of posts, which all now have to be produced on a netbook from here until Jan/Feb of 2013.  The reason for this is that the TAP clan have decided to sell the old OC (CA)-based homestead to return to the Land of Lincoln, where I grew up.

Our children have splintered, moving to MN and TX, and, while IL has been in the picture over the last couple of years, now seemed like as good a time as any to undergo the move.

So what does this have to do with the sporadic posts?  Well, I’m in the prep mode, which means that not only is the Real Estate agent draining my bank account to make the house more attractive to sell, I’m also packing everything. Not fun.

But we’re nearly done.  We do have a few more weeks to do it before it lists though.  And it really sucks.  I packed all of my stereo equipment away and so that really isn’t too much fun.

I will keep TAP in as readable a mode as I can over the next few weeks.  I have the final segment of our Male/Female Greats article being prepared for Wednesday so be sure to come back for that.

Again, I apologize.  Hope all is well with everyone in the Merry old land of TAP.

Male Greats

Like the great female artists of the long and great Rock era, that same period also had its share of male artists.  And what a cast they were.  Elvis Presley, Bobby Dylan, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and yes, this list CAN go on and on.  Where bands were concerned, there were plenty of great frontmen that led bands.  Singers like Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Jim Morrison (The Doors), Freddy Mercury (Queen), and Steve Perry (Journey) were essential singers.

There are all kinds of male performers.  The inimitable ones.  The lyrical ones.  The flashy and showy ones.  The punkish ones.  The angry ones.  Singers.  Songwriters.  Singer/Songwriters.

Great performers like Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, Dave Lee Roth, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Rod Stewart.

I can’t even think straight, there are so many great male performers and singers.

Who makes YOUR Top five cut?

[This is part two of a three-part tie-in.]

Review: Thick As A Brick 2 (TAAB2) – Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson

Opening with the same fade-up technique that first greeted listeners forty years ago, Thick As A Brick 2 quickly establishes itself as something new.  After the oddly familiar opening, it slips into an organ-driven riff that, if it were amplified ten times might have come from Dream Theater.  Moving ninety degrees to the side, the music then quickly slips into an acoustic flourish that might have come from any period of Fairport Convention.

Suddenly there is a riff that screams progressive jazz rock and, after a minute and a half, it settles into an acoustic interlude that slips right into a nod at straight rock.  The music may seem to be all over the place, but the opening can only be described as Tull-like, near the finest that Ian Anderson has ever been.  TAAB 2 won’t convert many new fans, which is a shame, but a lot of older Tull fans are sure going to be happy.  The mixture of folk and rock with nods to jazz and progressive rock is near perfect.

A little after two minutes, the music references an older version Tull for the first time.  Right after Anderson sings “Journey’s I might never take” the song slips in a few quick bars of a recognizable Tull song you’ll swear you know, but aren’t exactly sure what it is.  The answer hangs in the back of your head but there is no time to think about it because Anderson is already moving forward.  This isn’t the first time that the past is acknowledged.  Nor is it the first time that he races right by the past.

The instrumental that follows the first three minutes is pure Anderson/Tull at its best.  You can easily hear why Anderson is so welcome on Fairport’s Cropredy stage when he is given the chance.  There are biting guitars, unexpected left turns in the middle of songs and more than anything, wonderful flute.  Musically this is one of the most satisfying and challenging Anderson releases in a while.

As Anderson has said many times over the last few years, the original Thick As A Brick was as much a send up of concepts as it was a concept itself.  The original Thick As A Brick was based on a poem by one Gerald Bostock, a 14 year old who ran afoul of the local press for the subjects he tackled.

Thick As A Brick 2 moves from Bostock’s problems with local censorship to the life of the author of the poem.  It becomes a biography of the young man’s long 40-year journey.  He moves from being a successful banker to homelessness.  Various stages of his life are recounted in and out of order.

Starting as a banker, he becomes Adrift and Dumbfounded Bostock becomes the Military Man.  Unlike the original, which seemed at times to lyrically drift, Anderson tightly grounds Bostock’s life in real events, real times and real reactions.

This is as much a concept album about alienation and loss as is Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  Only this time the central character is one of us, not a removed and disenchanted rock star that is a million miles removed from our own shared collective experience.  Bostock could be any one of us, just moving through life trying to get by as best we can.

As the story unfolds, Anderson takes precise and detailed looks at banks, the military, religion, the cruelty of others toward someone who is different from them and the gentile comfort of suburbia.  Little of what he says condemns anything he speaks of.  Instead Anderson sets scenes, allowing us the distance of time and age to make up our own minds.

Where Aqualung once condemned religion directly, Anderson places Bostock’s foray into Religion before us and by grounding it inside the character, makes it personal.

“I sense the power. And I sense the spirit move in stately corridors of oak and stone, vaulted above.

Beyond the nave, beside dark transepts, candles flicker in the quire.

First the glow deep in the belly, tight grip of faith to fan the fire.

In the chapel, I am wondrous in the eyes of lesser boys.

Raptures touch me, lift me, shape me. Brotherhood, an ode to joy.”

This is the rational logic that drives an individual into religious conversion.  That conversion, that fire, may not last, and indeed it doesn’t, but for a minute Little Gerald has found the Lord.  We can sympathize with his need to connect with something bigger until the very last moment when he pleads for the listener to “Give till it hurts. Give till it hurts.”

This time, at the very last minute of the song, the religious cynicism that threaded its way through much of Aqualung reveals itself in just a few words.  “Give till it hurts.” Faith may be at the center of what is being said, but at the very end, it comes down to money.

Given the focus on Bostock’s life, those who love minutiae and detail can sit in their basements for hours and debate whether this can actually be a sequel.  It may share a title with the original, but TAAB 2 is its own piece.  Almost everyone else is just going to enjoy over fifty minutes of brand new music from Anderson in the Tull vein.

Which brings up another, inescapable part of this release, one that has caused some long time fans concern.

Anderson has never been less than honest either lyrically or in interviews.  He has billed this release as Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson for a reason.  It stands apart from his solo work. And while Anderson is also the acknowledged leader in Tull, it is apart from the Tull canon as well.

The biggest note in this claim is the absence of Martin Barre, Anderson’s long time guitarist in Tull.  There are brief moments when the tone of Barre’s guitar and the way he can rip into a great lead could have made the CD different. (This is not meant to denigrate guitarist Florian Opahale’s great work in any way.)

That said, Barre’s presence would have only made TAAB 2 a bit different.  At the heart of this CD, as there is at the best of Tull’s work, is the brilliance, music and leadership/director’s ability of Ian Anderson.

Even with Barre’s long service and his highly individualistic style, Tull has always been Anderson’s home.  You can’t help but feel that throughout the cycle that Anderson is fully engaged.  The use of his own band doesn’t diminish this work one bit.

There are a lot of other classic rockers and writers who would have fallen back into their familiar names and claimed this was by their original band, but Anderson knows TAAB 2 isn’t by Jethro Tull.  The Tull that created the original Thick as A Brick was a hard worn, tight touring unit that walked into a studio forty years ago and brought Anderson’s work to life.  TAAB 2 is a work based on something by that original band. It is different and he knows it and he doesn’t lie to us about this.

Thick as A Brick 2 holds an amazing narrative about one man’s life.  It jumps across time and, as Anderson always has, jumps across musical genres.  There are plenty of nods to Tull’s past such as the scratchy ‘Locomotive Breath’ guitar on “Kismet in Suburbia” and the ever present flute, but TAAB 2 never slips into nostalgia.

It is one of the best releases that Anderson has delivered in quite a while.  It is his most lyrically engaging work, and by looking directly into the eyes of his past he has found something new to say musically.

If there is any doubt that this is really a sequel to the original, take the very last lyric:

So, you ride yourselves over the fields.

And you make all your animal deals.

And your wise men don’t know how it feels

to be Thick As A Brick…… two

Ending with something vague or inexact isn’t Anderson’s style. He declares this “…Two.” And he delivers that last word with a wink.

But the most telling part of that lyric is actually the second line.  “And you make your animal deals.”  For that is really what is at the heart of much of this album, the deals we make with ourselves and each other in order to stay alive, in order to keep going each and every day.

Pushed and cajoled by executives for years to make a sequel to a time-honored classic number one album, Anderson made a deal with them, his audience and himself.  And delivered in style with wit, grace and intelligence.

The CD is available in both a single CD release and a special edition with a 5.1 mix and a DVD.  In addition to the Tull website, fans of the new CD may want to visit the St. Cleve Chronicles website.  This is the modern equivalent to the original’s newspaper. http://www.stcleve.com/. IF you visit the Tull site there is a wonderful piece from Anderson that explains the genesis of the project as well as many excerpts from the CD and much more.  http://www.j-tull.com/.

Release Date: April 3, 2012

— Mark Squirek

Opinion Poll: Klaus Nomi

I have a kind of Dick Clarkian good idea here.  I want to explore it and get opinions about music that might be obscure, from different eras, or, even from this time.  The reason why I’m doing this is because I really wonder what overall opinion might be from (likely) first-time exposure to an artist or band that might otherwise NOT be on anyone radar.

Today, I want to try a singer out with you that you’ve already come into contact with if you played an earlier video that I posted.  The man, Klaus Nomi, has led an extremely interesting Rock life even as it ended in tragedy as he was one of the first notable musicians to succumb to the evils of AIDS.

Klaus Nomi took a magnificent and gifted operatic voice and trained himself to exploit it.  Involving himself in the theatre experience, he learned to combine his voice with a display of unusual costuming, and create an interesting persona that landed him a record deal with RCA.  Klaus Nomi released two great albums in the early 80s as that generation was gearing up to its own sound.  The eponymous Klaus Nomi (1981), and Simple Man (1982) yielded a few solid hits on FM radio.  Those minor hits include “Simple Man”, “You Don’t Own Me”, “Nomi Song”, and “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead”.

The albums themselves also yielded deep favorites like “Solar Eclipse”.

When David Bowie appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1979 doing “The Man Who Sold The World”, Klaus Nomi was one of two strangely dressed back-up singers attending to Bowie as he performed for the SNL audience.  Klaus lived a nice dream before he passed away in 1983, just as his ’80s synth-driven style was taking strong root.  In the early years of the new millennium, a documentary film was released featuring this ‘once in a lifetime persona’.  The film, if you’re interested, is the fascinating The Nomi Song.

I’m installing a video of Klaus doing “Lightning Strikes”, a cover of the famous Lou Christie hit, for your viewing.  After you watch it, hit the comment section and say what you think about Klaus Nomi.

[We can take this further if you enjoy this.  Just add an idea about a performer that might have otherwise flown under many radars.  We can then solicit opinions.  Just bringing back the youth!]

In Memorium: Our Hearts

Over the last week, we have lost a few luminaries of Rock.  And although I have become loathe to visit these things unless I seem forced to it, I feel compelled to drop a few lines this morning.  My words would be meaningless against the many that have already been written and so I’ll just say that the Rock atmosphere has compressed with just that much less in our lives that mattered for so many.

Robin GibbBee Gees (May 20), Donna Summer (May 17), Chuck Brown (May16), Donald “Duck” DunnBooker T & The MGs (May 13), Rob Doherty (May 5), Adam “MCA” YauchThe Beastie Boys (May 4), Tommy MarthThe Killers (April 23), and Greg HamMen At Work (April 19).

In many different and diverse ways, these individuals have touched our lives.  And now that they’re gone, they will be missed, especially for what was yet to come from them.

Rest In Peace, my friends…Rest!

TAPSheet: Release Notes – 05/21/2011 – UK Report

Mercury Records (UK) plan to release the new Amy MacDonald album, Life Is A Beautiful Light, on June 11.  If you remember her excellent “Mr Rock and Roll” from her equally captivating 2007 album, This Is The Life, then this release should be great news for you and your calendar.

Decca Records (UK) plan the release of Analog Man by Joe Walsh, expected on June 11.

Frontiers Records (UK) will release XXX from Asia in a several formats that include a CD/DVD configuration that will throw in two bonus songs.  It’s expected on July 2.

Atlantic Records (UK) has scheduled the release of Ill Manors from Plan B, with a planned date of July 16.

Favored UK reissue label, Edsel plans the reissue of three The Beat classics that include I Just Can’t Stop It (1980) in a 2CD/DVD Deluxe Edition set featuring a second disc of 19 bonus tracks, and a DVD with video promos, Top Of The Pops broadcasts, and a live track.  Edsel will also reissue Wha’ppen (1981), with bonus tracks and a DVD of promo videos, and live performances, and Special Beat Service (1982), also with its own collection of bonus tracks, and a DVD filled with cool videos.  All three of these reissues are planned for the UK market on June 25.

EMI Music (UK) has assembled a Blur Box collection, Blur 21, that will gather remastered and expanded editions of the Blur releases as well as include four discs of rarities, three DVDs of live performances, a hard bound book, and a collectible 7″ disc.  This massive set will include download rights to the digital files of all of these tracks as an expanded bonus to purchasers of this Box.  This definitive Blur Box is expected on July 30.  This Box set is also expected in a 13-disc vinyl LP package.

Antenna/Esoteric Records will release Alt, a brand new album of music from Van Der Graaf Generator on June 25.

Mercury UK will release the new album from Gaslight Anthem called Handwritten in both CD and CD deluxe packages on July 23.

The UK division of Dead Oceans Records plan the release of There’s No Leaving Now from The Tallest Man On Earth, with a scheduled date of June 11.

Esoteric Records (UK) will reissue remastered and expanded versions of Victims Of Circumstance (1984), and Ring Of Changes (1983), by the famed Barclay James Harvest, all released on June 25.

DGM Records will release Live In Argentina 1994 featuring King Crimson on June 11.

I’m particularly excited about the reissue and remastering of It’s Better To Travel (1987) from Swingout Sister.  It is being released in a 2CD Deluxe Edition that will be expanded with nine bonus cuts that include “Breakout” in a remixed version, an instrumental version of “Communion”, and a long version of “Another Lost Weekend”.  The UK reissue is scheduled for July 2.  Love it!!

A Box set featuring ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) called Tarkus is being scheduled for July 16.

Now Sounds (UK) plan the reissue and expansion of Come On Down: The Complete MGM Recordings featuring the music of Every Mother’s Son.  It will contain extra tracks.  It is on the calendar for June 25.

Reactive/Esoteric Records (UK) will reissue Tyger (1987) from Tangerine Dream in an expanded/remastered set.  This set will add in two bonus TD cuts.  It arrives on June 25.

And finally, Other Voices Records released a live album from the prime years of Attrition, called The Truth In Dark Corners.  This album contains 10 live performance tracks from the Netherlands in 1985, and is currently available.

Female Greats

As the beginnings of Rock turned corners leading itself through its own aging process, it left behind many legends.  One side of its list of legends is the female performer.  Many of them took the self-named route; names like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon, Janis Joplin, Julie London, Joan Baez, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Barbra Streisand, Petula Clark, Marianne Faithful, and so many more.  But equally, some of them were parts of a larger unit but still known as a superior performer.  Karen Carpenter (The Carpenters), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Margo Timmons (Cowboy Junkies), Patti Smith (The Patti Smith Group), Annie Lennox (Eurythmics), Ann Wilson (Heart), Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac/Solo). Delores O’Riordan (Cranberries), and, again, so many more.

On lesser scales, but no less impressive, were talents like Melanie, Maggie Bell, Janis Ian, Gayle McCormick (A Group Called Smith), Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays), Nico (Velvet Underground – oh, yes, who else sounds like her?) and all the many other female performers that have walked this stage called Rock and Roll.

I have a love for so many of them.  Putting together a list of any kind detailing the Top 5 Female Artists is a tough request but one that I’m asking that you think about and do.

Leave your comments about who makes your Top 5 cut.

[This is part one of a loosely connected 3-part idea.  Two polls that segues into a commentary.  Should be fun (I think).]

Review: New York Connection – Sweet

The newest album from The Sweet, a band that still survives under the watchful care of original member Andy Scott, still has that instantly recognizable Sweet sound fashioned decades earlier when the band cranked out plenty of Top40 hits.  But this album doesn’t have Sweet originals (unless you want to count the album’s title track, “New York Connection”, originally written and recorded by Sweet early in the ’70s).  Instead, Scott’s recruited band takes some highly respected songs and gives them the Sweet ‘go-round’ musically.

The new album, New York Connection, opens up with a captivating Russ Ballard song, “New York Groove”, which demands instant replay, even before you move on.  And that’s a helluva way to begin an album.  Scott’s latest incarnation of Sweet takes on classic tracks like the enduring Dead Or Alive’s 1984 song, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, Velvet Underground’s most noticeable “Sweet Jane”, and Springsteen’s (or does this really belong to Patti Smith?) “Because The Night”.

“You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” takes on a new life as Sweet turns it away from its ’80s synth-style to the revered Sweet effect.  I can’t confess to liking Sweet’s take on “Because The Night” because it is quite a different song, however, I was never much the fan of the song anyway.

The surprises of the album are their covers of “Blitzkrieg Bop” (The Ramones) in a super-great version; “Gold On The Ceiling” (Black Keys); “Shape Of Things” (The Yardbirds); and of course, the show-stopper, “New York Groove”, which rules this album’s groove space (listen below).

I’m a fan of Sweet.  New York Connection reaffirms why I’m a fan.

Release Date: May 08, 2012

–Matt Rowe